The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien is an American late-night talk show hosted by Conan O'Brien that aired from June 1, 2009, to January 22, 2010, as part of NBC's long-running Tonight Show franchise. O'Brien previously hosted NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, which followed The Tonight Show with Jay Leno for 16 years, until his brief succession over Leno. Many members of the Late Night cast and crew made the transition to The Tonight Show, including Max Weinberg's house band and Andy Richter, who returned to the show as announcer, and eventually also began resuming his role as sidekick, after having left Late Night in 2000.
In January 2010, after the show had been on the air for seven months, it was announced that NBC was intending to move Leno from primetime back to his original timeslot at 11:35 pm, with O'Brien's show starting shortly after midnight. In response to the announcement, O'Brien released a press statement saying that he would not continue as host of The Tonight Show if it was moved to any time after midnight to accommodate The Jay Leno Show. He feared it would ruin the long and rich tradition of The Tonight Show, which had been on after the late local newscasts from the beginning. After two weeks of negotiations, NBC announced that they had paid $45 million to buy out O'Brien's contract, ending both his tenure as host as well as his relationship with NBC after 22 years.
Conan O'Brien's final Tonight Show was broadcast on January 22, 2010, with Jay Leno officially resuming his role as host on March 1, 2010, immediately following the conclusion of the 2010 Winter Olympics. It later received four Primetime Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series, the first time The Tonight Show received a nomination for this particular award after 2003.
At only 146 episodes (145 aired) over the course of seven months and three weeks, it is the shortest-running iteration in the sixty-year history of The Tonight Show.
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien features examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: In one of his monologues, Conan told a story about how a supposed fan recognized him on the street and said, "It's Cohen O'Riley from the radio!"
- Affectionate Nickname: On the second episode, Tom Hanks shortened Conan's name to "Coco", and the rest is history.
- Amusing Injuries: Animal expert Nigel Marven came out with a fresh cut on his neck, from the water monitor's tail that whacked him just before going on stage. Nigel went on like nothing was wrong, but after Andy pointed out his injury, Conan became concerned. Nigel insisted it was no big deal ("It's a badge of courage for wildlife guides") and continued showing the animals he brought. His injury became a Running Gag throughout his segment.Conan: If at any time you get light-headed or feel you need medical attention, you let me know, and I'll wait twenty minutes and get it for you.
Conan: Okay, well we should probably move on, because I think you're about to die.
Conan: Let's move on while you still have enough oxygenated blood in your head.
- Anachronism Stew: In a flashback to Conan's college days, Conan is seen playing with Lord of the Rings action figures. Andy calls attention to this after the clip:Andy: They had Gandalf dolls back in '84?
Conan: I made it myself.
Andy: Oh! All right, touche.
Conan: I carved it.
Andy: You had the foresight to make it look like Ian McKellen.
Conan: All right, shut up.
- Anti-Role Model: A PSA of Elmo talking about swine flu was gag dubbed to make him give bad advice:Elmo: Or just pretend you're sick, kids, so you can blow off school and smoke cigarettes! Hahaha! School is for chumps!
- Auto-Tune: A cutaway joke in the 9/14/09 episode involved Kanye West's interruption of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at the VMAs, where his words were auto-tuned.
- Bait-and-Switch: In one "In the Year 3000":Conan: After Radio Shack changes its name to "The Shack" and Pizza Hut becomes "The Hut", The Olive Garden's name will be "The Horrible Restaurant".
- Beat: In one of the William Shatner interviews, Conan asked Shatner how his Thanksgiving was. Shatner responded that it was awful, because it was so messy. Then he paused, and when he began talking again, Conan interrupted him:Conan: I never know what's going to happen when you come out here. I asked you a question and you took, I think, a 45-second pause.
- Benevolent Boss: Reportedly, the exit negotiations were held up by Conan's insistence that NBC shell out severance money for his staff. Conan reportedly paid out of pocket to provide for staff/crew members who weren't covered by the NBC contract.
- Big "NO!": Said by Cody Devereaux when Conan accidentally did something to hurt his feelings. Always followed by Cody stating he doesn't want to live anymore, running into the sun, and melting.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: The last two weeks of Conan's Tonight were downright vicious.Conan: NBC announced that they expect to lose $200 Million on the Winter Olympics next month. Now, folks, is it just me...or is that story hilarious?
- Body Horror: In one sketch, Conan shot Wax Tom Cruise and Wax Fonz out of a cannon... with the catch that they didn't have enough money to rent a cushion for them to land on. This resulted in the Tom Cruise model breaking in half upon hitting the ground, and Fonz's face getting mutilated. When Conan brought the two back into the studio, he warned young children to leave the room before showing the Fonz's busted-up face.
- Bothering by the Book: Toward the end of his run, Conan decided to exploit every perk and concession that was in his contract, knowing that it would piss off the higher ups at NBC, but they couldn't do anything about it because he was already on the way out. This included forcing the network to pay extortionate royalty fees for songs by the Rolling Stones and Beatles for throw-away gags.
- Brain Food: In one of the Cody Devereaux sketches, Cody was joined by a zombie, whose theme song was merely Cody's but with different lyrics: "Brains, brains, brains, brains..."
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: One of the most famous gags from the first "In the Year 3000" sketch: Conan said that YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook will merge to form "YouTwitFace".
- Broken Record: One "Conan on the Aisle" sketch had Conan criticizing Public Enemies for being too repetitive, which padded the running time. A clip from the film was shown where an announcement was made to look to your left and then to your right to see if you spot John Dillinger. In the actual film, the audience only did this once, but as presented in this segment, they were instructed to look to their left and right several times.
- Butt-Monkey: On every single talk show, when the NBC fiasco was discussed, Carson Daly (who hosts Last Call at 1:30 in the morning, after all the major talk shows are done) was known as "that poor guy". Daly survived when O'Brien decided to leave NBC rather than have Tonight start a half-hour later.
- Catchphrase: "In the Year 3000" always began with William Shatner saying: "And so we take a cosmic ride into that new millennium; that far off reality that is the year 3000. It's the future, man."
- Celebrity Endorsement: A recurring segment towards the end of the series involved Conan declaring himself "the new Oprah" and endorsing a wide variety of So Bad, It's Good products, such as Steven Seagal's "Songs From the Crystal Cave" CD, Killdozer!, Troll2, Leprechaun IV: In Space, the 2010 calendar of extraordinary chickens, and Kathie Lee's Rock n' Tots Cafe: A Christmas Giff.
- Continuity Nod: The theme for this version of the Tonight Show was carried over from Late Night.
- Country Matters: When Adam Sandler was a guest on the last week of shows, he told the story of how he and Chris Farley were fired from Saturday Night Live. This led to him reciting his manager's motto: "NBC: Nothing But Cunts."
- Curse Cut Short: In the first Twitter Tracker, the announcer said "Don't flush Twitter down the-" before being cut off by Conan.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- The Super Mario Bros. 3 curtain, which Conan even mentioned after someone posted the original picture.
- Conan hires a Na'vi assistant along with his vampire assistant. The vampire is unhappy, and Conan suggests he can start work later and share the role. The vampire ends up running out into the sunlight rather than share the job.
- A joke in a couple monologues had Bill Clinton's Nobel prize chances, represented by a moving arrow that just happens to be at Clinton's crotch.
- Don't Explain the Joke:
- When Newark mayor Cory Booker was on, he was surprised that so many people took his "banning Conan from New Jersey" comment seriously. He had to explain that he doesn't have the power to do that.
- In the last week of shows, Conan did a series of sketches where he did something really expensive on NBC's dime before leaving, and on the final instance, he told the viewer, "There's been some outrage on the internet that we're wasting all this money... it's NOT REAL! Okay, just wanted to make that clear."
- Driven to Suicide: Cody Devereaux, Conan's brooding vampire assistant, who kills himself each time he appears by running into the sun and melting.
- Evil, Inc.: Even before the Leno-Conan debacle, this Running Gag was carried over from Late Night. For example, in one sketch with a dog that paints portraits, the dog wasn't cooperating and barking incessantly, causing Conan to deadpan that Comcast (who was in the process of buying NBC at the time) must love this.Conan: [evil-sounding voice] Let's see how this "O'Brien" does! What the hell is that?!
- Evil Stole My Faith: One "Celebrity Survey" asking the question "The success of The Real Housewives of New Jersey means..."Conan: God wrote: "there is no Me."
- Eye Beams: In one "In the Year 3000", the William Shatner intro started as normal, but in this one instance, George Takei's head showed up and blew up Shatner using laser eye beams.
- Failing a Taxi: Part of the gag that "introduced" Conan at the start of his first show. Unable to catch a cab in Manhattan, he ran...all the way to Hollywood. Then he realized he forgot his keys back in New York, so he burst into the studio with a bulldozer.
- Fandom Rivalry: Invoked. When Conan (jokingly) fired one of the band members for watching the baseball game during the show, he said he could do that... because he's a Red Sox fan. Cue a few audience members good-naturedly booing, which Conan quickly called attention to.Conan: Yay boo, yay boo, it's lots of fun to do. If you like it, holler "yay", and if you don't, you holler "boo". [audience laughs] My apologies to everyone.
- Fanservice Extra: The woman that Conan always rescues in "Noches de Pasión con Señor O'Brien".
- Feet-First Introduction: How Conan is introduced when he shows off his barbershop quartet outfit and handlebar mustache.
- Feghoot: When Norm MacDonald was a guest, he told a joke about a moth who visits a podiatrist: Read Conan: My congratulations to anyone who stuck it through to the end.
- Final Speech:Conan: Before we end this rodeo, a few things need to be said. There has been a lot of speculation in the press about what I legally can and can't say about NBC. To set the record straight, tonight I am allowed to say anything I want. And what I want to say is this: between my time at Saturday Night Live, the Late Night show, and my brief run here on The Tonight Show, I have worked with NBC for over 20 years. Yes, we have our differences right now and yes, we're going to go our separate ways. But this company has been my home for most of my adult life. I am enormously proud of the work we have done together, and I want to thank NBC for making it all possible. Walking away from The Tonight Show is the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Making this choice has been enormously difficult. This is the best job in the world, I absolutely love doing it, and I have the best staff and crew in the history of the medium. But despite this sense of loss, I really feel this should be a happy moment. Every comedian dreams of hosting The Tonight Show and, for seven months, I got to. I did it my way, with people I love, and I do not regret a second. I've had more good fortune than anyone I know and if our next gig is doing a show in a 7-Eleven parking lot, we'll find a way to make it fun. And finally, I have to say something to our fans. The massive outpouring of support and passion from so many people has been overwhelming. The rallies, the signs, all the goofy, outrageous creativity on the internet, and the fact that people have traveled long distances and camped out all night in the pouring rain to be in our audience, made a sad situation joyous and inspirational. To all the people watching, I can never thank you enough for your kindness to me and I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask of you is one thing: please don't be cynical. I hate cynicism it's my least-favorite quality and it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. As proof, let's make an amazing thing happen right now. Here to close out our show, are a few good friends, led by Mr. Will Ferrell!
- Flipping the Bird: William Shatner gave Conan the finger during one of his interviews.
- Full-Body Disguise: One of the first sketches on the show involved Conan disguising himself as a focus group leader who showed clips of Late Night to older viewers to see what they said about him. Among the comments about Conan: He's not funny, he makes a fool of himself, is probably mentally unstable, and would only appeal to porn addicts.
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Invoked in one of the last episodes. Norm MacDonald came out as a surprise guest with a congratulatory gift basket that he meant to give him back in June, and read the ironic card:Norm: Congratulations, Conan O'Brien, on finally securing your place as permanent host of The Tonight Show. That's something they can never take away from you. It is perhaps the shrewdest programming decision ever made by the NBC brain trust. Sure, the pressure's on, but if I know you, Conan O'Brien, miserable failure is not an option. You are the new king of Late Night! Long live the king!
- Funny Background Event: In the first episode of 2010, Conan asked La Bamba what his New Year's resolution would be. Check out Scott Healy behind La Bamba; he's desperately trying not to crack up.
- George Jetson Job Security:
- During one of the "In the Year 3000" skits, La Bamba was unprepared for the robe that lowered from the ceiling and ducked out of the way just before it hit his head. After he got the robe on and everyone laughed, Conan (kidding, of course) announced: "You're fired. What the hell!"
- In another episode, Conan noticed that the band members were watching a baseball game during the show. Conan casually remarked to the bandleader, "Well, you're fired."
- The lyrics to "Just Shut Up and Drink It" (sung to the "Andy'll Try It!" theme): "If La Bamba doesn't wanna lose his job... ("I have no choice!") just shut up and drink it!"
- Heel Realization: In one of the "Andy'll Try It" skits, Andy was supposed to drink Tofurkey and Gravy Soda, but refused and made La Bamba try it instead. La Bamba only poured a tiny bit into his cup but Conan insisted on a full glass. After La Bamba tried to drink it but spit it out after only a couple seconds, Conan immediately and repeatedly apologized for essentially forcing La Bamba to drink a lot of it.
- Identical Stranger: Continuing the Running Gag from Late Night with Conan O'Brien that Conan looked like Finnish politician Tarja Halonen, on The Tonight Show it was a Running Gag that Conan looked like Tilda Swinton.
- I'm a Humanitarian:Conan: Two contestants from The Biggest Loser who had a combined weight of 625 pounds recently had a baby together. That's in the news, yeah. Yeah, the baby weighs ten pounds, 14 ounces, and the couple said "It was delicious." (mixed reaction from the audience as Conan laughs) Man, did we debate that one backstage.
- Inner Monologue: Whenever Conan delivers a diatribe on race relations, Mike Merritt has a derisive inner monologue about how white Conan is. This gag was carried over from Late Night with Conan O'Brien and also has appeared on Conan.
- Insistent Terminology: The first time William Shatner was a guest, Conan plugged Shatner's talk show, saying you can find it on The Biography Channel. Shatner corrected Conan and said it airs on "The Bio". Conan got confused, and Shatner explained that he was instructed to call it "The Bio", not "The Biography Channel".
- Instant Costume Change: The repeated gag in the "Audiencey Awards" sketch. Conan will say that for an award show as important as this, he needs to dress the part. He then holds out his arms as the costume designer sticks a back-less tux over his front side. This gag was carried over to Conan.
- It's Always Spring: Used as an excuse by Conan to justify that his head injury wasn't that bad. When the doctors were determining how bad his concussion was by asking him questions, one of the questions was what month it was. Conan defended himself by saying that it's L.A.; you never know what month it is!
- It's Personal: In the second Cory Booker video:Cory: I banned Conan from Newark Airport, and last night he had the audacity to ban me from Burbank Airport? Well Conan, it's on.
- Judgment of Solomon: Conan's open letter saying The Tonight Show was an American institution and he'd rather see Leno take it back than let it be "killed" in a later timeslot.
- Large Ham Announcer: "TWITTER TRACKER TWITTER TRACKER TWITTER TRACKER!!!!!"
- Laser-Guided Karma: Following the NBC-Comcast merger, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts fired Jeff Zucker for royally screwing up the whole Tonight Show thing, replacing him with Comcast COO Steve Burke.
- Last Stand: The comedy talk show version. Conan, knowing he had about two weeks before NBC forced him off the show, started reaming out his own network (and Leno) on a nightly basis.
- Leitmotif: Cody Devereaux, Conan's brooding vampire assistant, is always accompanied by a Boy Band-esque song with the lyrics, "I'm gonna love you forever / and never say goodbye..."
- Manipulative Editing: One "Conan on the Aisle" sketch had Conan criticizing Public Enemies for being too repetitive, which padded the running time. A clip from the film was shown where an announcement was made to look to your left and then to your right to see if you spot John Dillinger. In the actual film, the audience only did this once, but as presented in this segment, they were instructed to look to their left and right several times.
- Man on Fire: When William Shatner told how he deep-fried a turkey for Thanksgiving, he said he forgot one important step: Keep the neck down. When the turkey neck is up, it forms a spout, which caused oil to shoot up and cover him. "And then I caught fire."Conan: You did not. You did not catch on fire. [Shatner looks offended] I'm sorry, maybe you did.
- Mathematician's Answer: When Jennifer Aniston was a guest, they showed a clip of the short-lived Ferris Bueller series (based on Ferris Bueller's Day Off), but could only find a clip in German. After the clip, Jennifer asked if anyone in the audience knew what the characters were saying. A woman responded and Conan asked, "What happened there? Do you know what was said?" The woman merely replied, "Yes", and Conan burst out laughing.
- Mêlée à Trois: What erupted among pretty much every late-night television host as a result of the Screwed by the Network situation.
- Conan O'Brien ripped on NBC and Jay Leno in his monologue, increasingly so as it became apparent he was being forced off the show and/or network in Leno's favor.
- Leno took shots at David Letterman's sex scandal.
- Letterman retaliated by spending the next week tearing into "Big Jaw" Leno and the "pinheads" at NBC.
- Jimmy Kimmel did a devastating parody of Leno on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, then visited Leno during a Ten At Ten segment to call him out.
- Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson first said he never wanted to work for NBC, then called the network executives "lying rat bastards" among other things, some of which were bleeped out.
- Jon Stewart on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart called Jeff Zucker "the Dick Cheney of television, just shooting television shows in the face".
- Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report mocked NBC's dishonesty, later accusing Zucker of wanting to burn the network down for the insurance money.
- George Lopez on his TBS show asked "What does NBC stand for, Nobody Backs Conan?"
- To complete the circle, Leno ended the week by swiping at Conan's ratings and hitting Letterman's sex scandal again. At one point, he said that "FOX is looking pretty good this time of year".
- NBC sent executive Dick Ebersol out to The New York Times to call Conan "gutless" and "chicken-hearted".
- Howard Stern weighed in with the suggestion that Leno intended to screw Conan out of Tonight all along.
- Jimmy Fallon was stuck between siding with one of his comedy heroes (Leno) or his close friend and the guy who gave him Late Night (Conan), and tried as hard as he could to stay out of it, winning major points from Conan fans originally skeptical of him when he took over Late Night. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly celebrating his first year of hosting Late Night, Fallon stated that he called Conan to offer his support and tell him he would be willing to host Late Night at 1:00 AM with no resentment.
- Carson Daly, whose show is on at a dead hour and always on the brink of cancellation, appeared in the crowd of Kimmel's show asking if he could have his job.
- Robin Williams sang an Irish Drinking Song, the last half of which consisted of him alternating between chants of "FUCK THE BASTARDS THAT CANCELED THE SHOW" and "FUCK THE BASTARDS, THEY CAN'T TAKE A JOKE".
- Menstrual Menace: Referenced by Kevin Nealon during one of his interviews:Kevin: I do like this time of the year. It's a lot better than that time of the month.
Conan: [aside glance] Unbelievable.
- A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: In one of the "Mike Merritt's Inner Thoughts" segments, Mike ends by calling Conan a "decaying porcelain doll" in his mind. The gimmick of the sketch is that Conan is unaware of what Mike thinks about him, but in this instance he called him out on it:Conan: "Decaying porcelain doll"? [Mike shrugs and smiles] My God! That bit's getting meaner and meaner.
- Mr. Seahorse: One "Tonight Show Tour-iffic Tram-tacular" sketch featured Andy giving birth in front of a crowd on the tour trams.
- Non-Indicative Name: Done for laughs with "In the Year 3000", which describes events that would "occur" in the near future, not ~1,000 years in the future.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Occasionally, Conan will say this when describing a "news of the weird" story.
- The Oldest Profession: During one of the "Conan is the new Oprah" segments, Conan introduced a new bit where Max Weinberg became a relationship advice co-host.Max: Here's my "relationship tip of the day": Always ask a prostitute if she's really a cop. Because, by law, she has to tell you. Conan?
- Parallel Porn Titles:
- In a Triumph sketch where he visited a dog hotel in L.A., he took over a room and ordered one of the hosts to play a bunch of dog porn videos for him: "Turner and Cootch", "Marley in Me", "Beverly Hills Chi-Hoo-Hah", "Rear Bud: Golden Receiver", "An American's Tail: Fievel Goes Deep", "Homeward Bound and Gagged", and "Lassie Come Twice".
- On the last week of shows, Conan mentioned that during the NBC fiasco, he was given an offer by an adult film company to star in one of their porn films. He was "seriously considering" it, and listed off a variety of porn titles that he might star in, including "Conan the Impaler", "Conan Gets the Late Shaft", "In the Rear 3000", Conan the Bangbarian, and The Fisterhood of the Traveling Time Slots.
- Persona Non Grata: During the long-running "feud" between Conan and Newark mayor Cory Booker, Cory banned Conan from Newark airport, to which Conan banned Cory from L.A.'s airports. Then, Cory upped the ante by banning Conan from the entire state of New Jersey.
- Potty Failure: In the final "In the Year 3000":Andy: Homeland Security will have to deal with another case of exploding underwear on an airplane, after Kennedy Airport opens its first Taco Bell.
- Precious Puppies: Conan's Tonight Show Mini-Dose of Joy puppies dressed as cats! Complete with theme music. They were so gosh-darn cute, Conan couldn't help but laugh. "I can't compete with this!"
- Product Placement: Conan had to plug a digital camera in an early episode, though to his credit it segued into a "Photo Gallery" sketch, with the gimmick being that Conan used said camera for his recent trip to the beach with Andy.
- Rattling Off Legal: An early episode had Conan plugging a Kodak digital camera. When Andy asked Conan if he was paid by Kodak to plug their camera on the air, he denied it. The action freeze framed and a disclaimer scrolled up the screen, with an announcer reading it:Announcer: The NBC legal department is required by law to disclose that Conan O'Brien was indeed asked by the Kodak Corporation to mention the M380 camera. In fact, when Kodak asked O'Brien if he'd mention the 380, O'Brien immediately responded, "Add some zeroes to that and you've got a deal." And don't be fooled by Andy Richter. He agreed to sign on for a replacement lens cap and a camera strap. One Kodak executive was overheard saying, "My God, I've never seen such naked greed."
- Really Gets Around: Paris Hilton jokes, carried over from Late Night and continued on Conan.Conan: (during Celebrity Survey) "There are two types of people in this world" [...] Paris Hilton wrote: "people who've had sex with me and Dan Jenkins of Sarasota, Florida."
- Running Gag: Several.
- Larry King's oldness (carried over from Leno's era).
- The Green Car Challenge (done on both shows).
- "Andy'll Try It!"
- Making fun of a certain South American leader's fatness (not Hugo Chavez), even though said leader isn't fat.
- The Moody Vampire. It even got to the point where Taylor Lautner got into a fight with him (staged, of course).
- For a time, Conan's concussion.
- Puppies Dressed As _____.
- Sketches involving two creepy and poorly-done wax statues of The Fonz and Tom Cruise that Conan picked up at a wax-figure warehouse.
- Newark jokes, which culminated in Newark mayor Cory Booker actually being a guest on the show.
- Serious Business: Before each "In the Year 3000", Conan would say something to the effect of, "All right, enough screwing around. We've been having fun, but I think it's time we stop that. It's time to get serious for a moment, and look... into the future."
- Shirtless Scene: In the Cody Devereaux sketches, Wolf Boy never wears a shirt.
- Short-Runners: While the show had over 100 episodes, that's a tiny amount for a talk show, especially one that was expected to last years and years. Of course, the short run is due to the NBC debacle that's been covered heavily on this page.
- Side-Effects Include...: Parodied in the "Andy'll Try It" where La Bamba was forced to drink Tofurkey & Gravy Soda:Conan: Oh, La Bamba, it says right here: "May cause death."
- Something Completely Different: Most of the third guests on the show were either music groups or stand-up comics as usual, but the 11/30/09 episode had the cast of Mary Poppins on Broadway performing the number "Step in Time". And the 1/18/10 episode had Cirque du Soleil perform.
- Spiritual Successor: "Before Photoshop" is a successor to "What in the World?" from Late Night with Conan O'Brien.
- Stealth Insult: When Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt were guests, Pratt said he wanted to run for president. Previous guest Seth Green made a comment in Pratt's favor, so he suggested he be his campaign manager. Seth replied:Seth: I actually, I have a job actually.
- The Swear Jar: When Newark mayor Cory Booker was a guest, Conan said there might be a time in the future when he makes another Newark joke in the monologue, so he unveils a giant jar that he will put money in every time he makes one. He puts it to use right away.
- Tabloid Melodrama: When Jennifer Aniston was a guest, Conan remarked how, being in the public eye due to her fame on Friends, there were often rumors made up about her by the tabloids. He then said he was surprised they never said he and she were in a relationship. Aniston replied, "Not yet."
- Take That!:
- Conan decided to exploit his loopholes by buying outrageously-expensive items, such as a Bugatti Veyron dressed up as a mouse with the master recording of the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" as its theme song; it cost NBC $1.5M. He followed up the next night by buying out the winning horse and jockey from the 2009 Kentucky Derby. The horse was wearing a mink Snuggie, and both were watching NFL Super Bowl footage restricted from the public. The cost? $4.8M on NBC's tab.
- Conan pointed out on his Grand Finale that those things were fake (except the Veyron, which was loaned from a museum) and didn't really cost millions of dollars...except for the Rolling Stones song, which really cost a lot of money. (Even on the Stones song, there is a loophole in US copyright law that states that song recordings can be played for free over broadcast television as long as their writers are compensated, so it didn't cost as much it could have.)
- Later in that same episode, Tom Hanks came out to the tune of "Lovely Rita" by The Beatles, ostensibly a tribute to his wife Rita Wilson. According to Questlove, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon's band leader and drummer for The Roots, the song did actually cost NBC up to $500,000 in royalty fees.
- Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: A sketch on the 1/6/10 episode concerned two guys taking the elevator in the world's tallest building in Dubai and engaging in awkward small talk on the really long ride.
- Un-person: Shortly after the end of Conan's run, NBC erased just about every single trace of him from their website even going back to before his Late Night run, including his picture from the mural at 30 Rockefeller Center (replacing it with Leno). Pretty much the only things involving Conan still on the NBC and Hulu websites are the episode of Saturday Night Live he guest hosted in 2001, and the 30 Rock episode "Tracy Does Conan" in which he guests and plays an important role in the plot. Even the "Tonight Show Experience" website, a grand multimedia salute to the Long Runner show's history, was yanked out of existence. Referenced in a mock audition/comedy skit on Conan. Andy is "auditioning" for the announcer position on the show when Conan asks about his previous work experience. After Andy stated he was the announcer on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, Conan asks if there is any video to prove this. Andy sadly replies no.
- Widget Series: Perhaps the only major late night show to become one, ever. That's saying something.
- Worst. Whatever. Ever!: An early episode featured a parody of attack ads: Barack Obama making minor mistakes (forgetting a staffer's name; re-reading text on a malfunctioning teleprompter, etc.) and the ominous narrator already declaring that Obama, after only six months on the job, is the "WORST. PRESIDENT. EVER."
- Zeerust: Deliberately invoked by "In The Year 3000", a continuation of his "In The Year 2000" bits on Late Night.